The Canyons (2013)
Paul Schrader is not excited about the direction film is going in. He claims there has been ‘’a total systematic change in the definition of a motion picture.’’ It’s a statement that is in accordance with the opening still pictures of his latest movie The Canyons, written by Bret Easton Ellis. It shows empty and shut down movie theatres in desolated areas, a real bleak and interesting start of the movie. Sadly though, the rest of the movie isn’t interesting at all. Could it all be his grand point?
Ellis’ story centres on three young professionals living in bright Hollywood who want to make it in the movie business. Christian (James Deen, who took a break from his work in the pornographic industry) and Tara (Lindsay Lohan) have a complicated relationship: Christian likes to be free and every once in a while invites a good looking man to have sex with Tara, an act he films. He suspects Tara to have an affair with actor Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk) and gets mad at her for doing things he is doing as well. It is a typical Ellis story, who once again explores the lives of people from Los Angeles trying to figure out themselves. What’s different though, is that his characters in The Canyons are more one-dimensional than ever.
The director tries to create some sort of melancholic atmosphere, juxtaposed to sunny and warm Hollywood with its grand mansions and canyons. It fails miserably though, since Brendan Canning’s score is dull and the cinematography by John DeFazio is not getting the most out of the city. What’s worse is that Schrader can’t fall back on the plot, dialogues (all of which are slow, rigid and devoid of interesting content) or acting (often painfully bad). And then what can Schrader do? Rely a lot on sexual content and hip features. The former works alright (Schrader has always had a fascination for naked bodies), but the latter gets on your nerves soon: constantly are the characters on their phones or tablets.
The Canyons disappoints in many ways. It certainly had potential, but maybe Schrader and Ellis have more luck with their upcoming project called Bait. It is a project which is going to have an interesting pre-production phase at least: Schrader and Ellis have some shit to figure out since Ellis was extremely disappointed with The Canyons.
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Lindsay on the set of I Know Who Killed Me, February 2007